Nuo Opera


Project name:

NUO Opera

Project type:

Folk culture Information design


Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign

Background Introduction:

Nuo Opera Performance in Tunpu, Anshun City, Guizhou Province

Nuo opera or Nuo drama is one of the most popular folk operas in southern China Characterized by its outstanding features such as ferocious masks, unique dresses and adornments, the strange language used in performance, and mysterious scenes. Nuo opera has been selected as one of the non-material cultural legacies of China.

Face mask of NUO Opera


The opera is a religious performance intrinsic to the culture of Nuoism, a type of Chinese folk religion. The purpose of Nuo opera is to drive away devils, disease and evil influences, and also to petition for blessings from the gods. Singing and dancing are included in Nuo opera, and performers wear costumes and masks.

Research Process:

Nuo opera is not as popular as other types of traditional opera like Peking opera.  So, I couldn’t find much information when I am walking through the downtown of a modern city. Later on, I decided to fly to city Guizhou, the center of Nuo drama in southwestern China, due to its long Nuo opera history and abundant repertoire. The only two occasions for the performance of Nuo opera are at the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) and in the middle of the 7th lunar month, the time of the rice harvest. People hope the Nuo opera can drive away bad luck and bring a good harvest.

During the research in Guizhou, I collected a great amount of Nuo Opera data and information. One thing that grasped my attention the most is the dancer’s face mask. The moment a dancer puts on his mask, he will not speak or act casually since putting on a mask means the spirit is on him already.

Primary School Students Drawing

Tongshan Primary School, Pingzhai, Longtang Town, Kaili City, Guizhou Province

I went to Tongshan Primary School in Pingzhai and asked the pupils to fill in the draft of the Nuoxi masks. As they are the locals who grow up with this type of culture, I believe those pupils have a better and unique understanding of the Nuo Opera. Because of this interaction, I found some unusual flashing points.

Color Chart from Survey

In Guizhou, I saw many exquisite Nuo opera masks. Different roles require different masks to reveal the characters, through their changing facial features and decorations. Based on the Nuo opera mask, I redesigned the facial expression after analyzing the facial relationship on each face mask. Then I made the color data analysis on the coloring draft from children.  Lastly, I combined the color and random selection of facial features. 


Design Process:

I’m inspired by some ancient Nuo Opera logo designs.

The outline shapes of the logo are unique and impressive, it requires me to well think about the graphic composition and relevant ratios. I started my sketch to analyze them.

Once I understood the overall layout and scale parameters, I zoomed into the Five senses drawing analysis and detailed design.

Diverse Eye Designs


Diverse Mouth Designs

From my design, each Nuo opera has a different expression, which reflects the tradition of Nuoism. Similar to today’s emojis, each facial expression of Nuo opera is unique, which represents emotions like joy and sorrow. The ancients wore masks to magnify emotions of the role; modern people prefer to use a symbol to express. By redesigning Nuo expressions, I hope the Nuo emoticon can both inherit the gist of Nuo opera and incorporate simpleness and conciseness of modern expression.

Logo Vector Graphic Design

VI Design for Actual Merchandises

Pen case: 80 * 178 mm / Corkscrew: 58 mm in diameter

Categories: Graphic Design